It’s rare to find a children’s show that is so densely packed with ideas, while also remaining accessible, but Duckie manages to pull this off. Some children’s performances fall into the trap of talking down to the audience, while others are just pared down versions of the performer’s night-time adult Fringe show. As an intelligent piece of theatre designed specifically for a younger crowd, Duckie avoids both of these hazards.
Le Gateau Chocolat is a very talented performer with a beautiful, unique voice and a disarming stage presence that’s both gentle and commanding. Making use of these performance skills, he draws the audience into the world of the ugly duckling.
It’s a fresh take on the old tale, as Duckie encounters a range of other animals, trying desperately to fit in. The conclusion differs from its source material, but the show’s message is probably more relevant and just as uplifting.
Gateau also demonstrates his clowning skills in a humorous display of belching and moments of physical humour, particularly in the first half of the show. The use of pop songs and show tunes woven into the story also works well.
One of the real strong points of the show is the costuming and props; the use of recycled materials brings an organic charm while firing the audience’s imagination.
There were some issues with the clarity of sound in the opening performance but this is sure to improve over the show’s run.
If your children would respond well to some thoughtful and imaginative theatre, get them along to Duckie, playing at the Garden of Unearthly Delights (Corona Theatre) on weekends until the end of Fringe.
Reviewed by Matthew Trainor
4 1/2 stars